Full focus returns to field for Jackson, Ravens after arduous journey to deal

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OWINGS MILLS, Md. — There were few revelations from the Thursday press conference for quarterback Lamar Jackson’s record $260 million contract with the Ravens. 

Asked what really changed from requesting a trade on March 2 to striking an agreement with Baltimore eight weeks later, the 26-year-old superstar said he was “not really worried about what happened in the past.” He added that he “really didn’t care about other teams” when asked about getting to speak with other suitors upon receiving the non-exclusive franchise tag ahead of the start of free agency. 

“I wouldn’t want to go any other place,” he said. 

Jackson referenced “some mutual agreements in the terms” and “liking the language” when asked about the turning point in reaching a deal now after more than two years of unsuccessful negotiations. However, he later dismissed the Jalen Hurts contract having any meaningful impact on talks between him and general manager Eric DeCosta. 

Interested agents were reaching out to Jackson “every week” throughout the process, but he plans to continue representing himself, noting that he didn’t “want to put my trust in anyone else but myself.” 

He confirmed asking DeCosta about adding veteran wide receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and DeAndre Hopkins this offseason, but he said that was never a demand. He’s “hyped” about getting to play with Beckham and “very excited” about the first-round selection of speedy receiver Zay Flowers, a fellow South Florida native. 

Asked about the sprained PCL in his left knee that ended his 2022 season in early December, Jackson said he was fully recovered about a month ago and has since been cleared. But he wasn’t really bothered by the unsettling conjecture surrounding his last-season status, saying it wasn’t “anyone’s business but ours.” 


No, the day didn’t shed much light on such an arduous process, but the moment was right, according to the 2019 NFL MVP. 

“I absolutely wanted to get it done because I was just tired of going back and forth about it,” Jackson said. “We’ve been doing it for years, but the time had come and the numbers were right and we were all satisfied.”

Despite the twists and turns, this was always the most likely and happiest outcome for both Jackson and the Ravens — now or at some point in the future. 

And it’s now time for all focus to return to the field where the pressure will be greater than ever on Jackson to fulfill the vow he made on draft night five years ago to win a Super Bowl. That’s just the burden of becoming the highest-paid player in NFL history. 

Jackson has the contract, a new offensive coordinator, and new wide receivers to go with one of the NFL’s best tight ends, a pair of potent running backs, and a superb offensive line that returns all but one starter in 2023. Simply put, there are no more excuses for the Ravens not to advance beyond the divisional round for the first time in over a decade.

It’s certainly not going to get any easier to augment the roster as Jackson’s contract advances, the reality for any team paying its quarterback top-shelf money. The work begins later this month with Jackson set to attend voluntary organized team activities, something he didn’t do last year. He’ll be learning Todd Monken’s offensive system and building chemistry with the likes of Beckham, Flowers, and Nelson Agholor in addition to strengthening his rapport with returning pass-catching targets. 

“I’m very eager to be honest with you,” Jackson said. “I think I told someone, ‘I want to throw for like 6,000 yards with the weapons we have.’ I’m not an individual award type of guy or stat watcher. I just want to do that because no one’s ever done it. I feel like we have the weapons to do it. We have explosive guys. … I just can’t wait to get rolling.” 

The Ravens certainly share in the excitement.

It was a heck of a long journey to this point. 

“There were some dark days. I’m not going to lie to you and say every day was great,” DeCosta said. “It’s been a long stretch, but we know Lamar. We know the kind of person he is. He’s a phenomenal football player, but you don’t make a phenomenal football player the highest-paid player in the league. You make a phenomenal football player who’s also a phenomenal person the highest-paid player in the league. 

“We had a lot of conviction that this was the right thing to do. It made a lot of sense. It just took a lot of patience.” 

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